Team USA basketball vs. Australia score, Tokyo Olympics: Americans advance to face France in gold medal game

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The United States men's basketball team survived a first-half scare vs. Australia in the first Olympic semifinal on Thursday, turning a 15-point second-quarter deficit into a runaway 97-78 victory. The Americans will play France, which held off Luka Doncic and Slovenia, 90-89, in the other semifinal matchup, for the gold medal on Friday night. Australia will face Slovenia for the bronze. 

Kevin Durant, who has already etched his name in history as the United States' all-time leading Olympic scorer, was spectacular again, keeping Team USA afloat when nobody else could get anything going. Durant finished with 23 points and was a switching, rim-protecting force on the defensive end, which is ultimately where the Americans won this game.

Shooting just 2-for-14 from 3 in the first half, Team USA cranked up the defensive pressure to start creating transition buckets and open 3s en route to a 31-6 run (with a 20-0 stretch sprinkled in) over the end of the second quarter and the start of the third. The Americans shot 7-for-14 from 3 over the third and fourth quarters, with Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum heating up on the cleaner looks. 

Heading into the fourth quarter, Team USA had swung the game 34 points, from down 15 to up 19 with a 48-14 run. The U.S. continues to start games slowly, even sloppily, but over time the depth of their talent advantage has proven to be too much. 

"A lot of teams are expecting us to fold early," Durant said after the game. "…We had a lot of guys with straight faces when we were down 15. 'Strong faces' is what Pop said."

Jrue Holiday's defense continues to get the recognition it deserves. After an all-time defensive showing throughout the NBA playoffs and particularly in the Finals, Holiday was central to Team USA holding Australia's Patty Mills -- who was getting past his defenders at will to start the game but wasn't able to finish much -- to 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. 

Holiday has been Team USA's second-best player throughout the Olympics. His defense speaks for itself, but his aggression on the offensive end, even when his shots aren't going, keeps the Americans moving forward. He puts pressure on you at all times, on both ends. He finished with 11 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot vs. Australia. 

Australia had beaten Team USA in its last two meetings, both exhibitions (2019 and 2021), but the Americans improved to 9-0 over the Aussies in actual Olympic play.

"We came here with one goal and that's to win a gold medal and now we're in a position to do it," Team USA star Damian Lillard stated following their win over Australia. 

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USA down 15 in second quarter to down 3 at half to up 19 at end of third. Woah

August 5, 2021, 5:35 AM
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what a statement. Did with defense and Durant, then others got going

August 5, 2021, 5:33 AM
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Forget about it. US up 15

August 5, 2021, 5:32 AM
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now the 3s falling for USA. It'll be a wrap if that continues

August 5, 2021, 5:25 AM
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31-6 run to close second quarter and open third for USA

August 5, 2021, 5:24 AM
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Durant hits first 3. He's just taking over on clear outs. Gonna have to start coming to double if you're Australia

August 5, 2021, 5:23 AM
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KD taking over. Inevitable

August 5, 2021, 5:22 AM
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Durant has been terrific without hitting a 3 so far

August 5, 2021, 5:21 AM
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USA takes first lead since 2-0 on Holiday short jumper

August 5, 2021, 5:19 AM
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Huge 14-4 run for Americans to close first half only down 3. Lead got as big as 15 for Australia.

August 5, 2021, 5:01 AM
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USA cutting this lead down from 15 to 7 at the moment saved their life, for the moment

August 5, 2021, 4:59 AM
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Booker hits first 3 for USA with 3:20 to play in second quarter

August 5, 2021, 4:55 AM
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Patty Mills!!!

August 5, 2021, 4:55 AM
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Doe any team at the Olympics outside USA make the playoffs in the East?

August 5, 2021, 4:51 AM
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Australia up 15 on heels of 8-0 run. US loose like the inferior team, flat out

August 5, 2021, 4:49 AM
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Oh boy. Thybulle going to line for 3-point play. US down 12 could be 13. This is past the worry time

August 5, 2021, 4:48 AM
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That Durant one-foot fallaway off glass plus the foul is insanely difficult, but if that's the kind of shot the Americans have to make all night? The Australia defense came to play

August 5, 2021, 4:47 AM
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US down 8 with Mills 1 for 6 is not great, Bob

August 5, 2021, 4:46 AM
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Things really going Aussies' way. Live ball Technical foul halts US fast break.

August 5, 2021, 4:44 AM
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US yet to make a single 3-pointer? Wow

August 5, 2021, 4:41 AM
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Middleton front-rims a dunk. Yikes. Omens getting sketchy here for USA

August 5, 2021, 4:40 AM
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Lillard passes out of double and gets it back with single coverage, Gets to cup. Americans down 6 at end of first quarter

August 5, 2021, 4:36 AM
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Durant with a couple buckets. Has been cold from 3. Needs to get going here

August 5, 2021, 4:33 AM
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Mills beats Durant for scoop 2. Absolutely nobody can stay in front of him

August 5, 2021, 4:30 AM
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Love how they let reasonable contact happen in these FIBA games. Almost impossible to overstate how much better it makes the game

August 5, 2021, 4:29 AM
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Thybulle another steal

August 5, 2021, 4:29 AM
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Mills is beating his defender every single time but is yet to score. Heading to the line for two here

August 5, 2021, 4:26 AM
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Australia will say "Thank you" every time Holiday pulls up for 3 off dribble

August 5, 2021, 4:25 AM
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Thybulle already with a steal. This guy is a defensive STAR and has big shooting upside too

August 5, 2021, 4:24 AM
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Dante Exum and Matisse Thybulle check in

August 5, 2021, 4:23 AM
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